Stay up-to-date on what's happening at the Regional Animal Protection Society

Getting lost may be the most traumatizing experience for a pet

July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month … Some advice to keep yours safe!

For families, a missing pet is a frightening experience. For the pet, it may be the most traumatizing experience of their lives.

July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month. It is estimated that as many as a million dogs and cats become separated from their families every year in Canada. In many cases – by some reports, a majority – are never found and reunited with their people.

As in almost all matters, prevention is preferable to dealing with the problem after the fact. We’ll address easy steps to ensure your pet doesn’t become separated from you.

But first, what if the worst does happen? In the event that your pet becomes lost, the first call should be to the RAPS Animal Shelter (or, if you are not in Richmond, your local shelter). Pets that are found are brought to our Shelter by members of the public or by our professional Animal Control Officers (ACOs). If you notify us that your pet is missing, we can reunite them immediately when they are rescued and brought to our Shelter. Do not underestimate the importance of an hour or two of confusion, fear and anxiety in a lost pet. Every moment counts.

Ideally, though, it will never come to that. A few simple steps taken by every responsible pet owner can ensure that your beloved animals do not experience this trauma in the first place.

Our Shelter sees the largest influx of lost pets during times of distressing noise, such as Halloween fireworks. Frightened animals become spooked and disoriented by loud noises, including thunderstorms, cannons intended to scare birds away from farmers’ fields or airports and other loud, unexpected noises.

By the time they have outrun their fear, they may be so far from home that they can’t find their way back. Be aware of the potential for upsetting sounds — this Canada Day was unusually quiet! — and ensure that your pet is indoors or securely enclosed in your yard. Background music to cover things like fireworks and thunder is an easy fix.

Animals that are sick or dehydrated can also become disoriented and wander aimlessly, even losing their ability to seek out the water they need. An injury can inhibit an animal’s ability to find its way home, even if it has the cognitive ability to do so.

There are simple and effective means of ensuring that your pet is speedily reunited with you. Always ensure your dog or cat is wearing a collar with an identification tag on it. Dogs in Richmond are required to be licensed and this allows us to reunite you as quickly as possible with your pet. However, if you have your phone number on a separate tag, it can expedite the process of reunification without the pet having to come to our Shelter (and without you having to pay the fee for the service)!

Microchipping is another superb way to ensure your pet’s speedy reunification with you. Microchips can be obtained at the RAPS Animal Hospital. Please ensure you register your pet’s microchip right away with your contact information. A lot of pets come in with microchips that aren’t registered so we are unable to reunite the owner and pet in a timely manner. Scanning for a microchip is the first thing we do if a pet arrives without a collar or tags. Don’t forget: if you move or change phone numbers, always update at the place where the microchipping was done or online with the microchip company.

Being separated from their people is a terrifying experience for most companion animals. This month is a time to take the simple steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen to your beloved family member.